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What Is the New and Independent Cause Defense to a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

How The New And Independent Cause Defense Work In Texas Personal Injury Cases.

In our series on defenses, we're now going to be looking at what the new and independent cause defense is, and how we can fight back against the highly-paid defense lawyers who want to unfairly ruin your case.

Questions answered on this page:

  • What defines the new and independent cause defense in Texas personal injury case?
  • What situations would be best to apply this defense in Texas?
  • What makes your case vulnerable to this defense?
  • How does an experienced Dallas-based attorney help me win?

What the new and independent cause defense actually means.

In many many defenses (like Acts of God), the defendant doesn't admit to having done anything wrong at all. Most defenses point the finger at you, Mother Nature, or another person and the defendants claim to have been saints. With new and independent causes, the defendant essentially admits that they did something wrong, but ultimately, a third party is truly the reason your injuries happened. If the defendant can prove this, your case may be worth $0.

Here's a common example of an accident. A drunk driver negligently causes a car accident in which your car is disabled. As a result, you're stranded in the middle of the road late at night, but otherwise fine. The following scenarios can help tease out what is a new and independent cause and what isn't:

  • NOT a new an independent cause: When you get out of your vehicle, a sober motorist slams into the back of your car. While the sober driver may have not been paying attention to the road and may even share in the fault with the drunk driver, the new motorist's actions weren't unforeseeable. That's a common risk associated with being stranded in a roadway.
  • A new and independent cause: Same scenario, but instead of a car hitting you, you're struck by a random meteor. Indeed, but for the drunk driver's bad acts, you wouldn't have been in the roadway where the meteor hit. Nonetheless, unless the drunk driver somehow knew that it was possible that a meteor shower was imminent, the meteor wasn't foreseeable.

In essence, then, the defendant isn't claiming perfection---just that something else is what or who's truly liable.

Proving new and independent cause.

To successfully plead this defense, the other side's lawyers must make a showing of two factors:

  1. The other cause was unforeseeable: We hinted at this in our discussion on the car wreck scenario above. If the first negligent person's acts placed you in an environment where your accident reasonably could have happened, then the defendant can't claim that you shouldn't be able to bring a claim against them. In many respects, the cause must be simply an aberration.
  2. The cause was superseding: The new cause must be something that breaks the natural sequence of events that would typically flow through after the defendant's negligence.

How all this plays out, of course, depends on the facts of your case. But we've been doing this kind of work for 25 years, and we've not seen more than a handful of cases where a true new and independent cause occurred. Instead, what we get is defense lawyers hanging their hat on any slightly-abnormal fact or alleged fact and claim that their client had nothing to do with our clients' injuries.

In other words, this is a difficult task for even a sharp defense lawyer to pull off. Nonetheless, an inexperienced plaintiff's attorney could easily fall for a defense lawyer's tricks and settle your case for substantially lower value than your case is worth.

Call the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices for help.

If you've been injured or know someone who has, feel free to give us a call. We never charge anyone for a consultation, and are happy to discuss your options with you. Call us at (855) 326-0000 now.

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